Whirled Musings

Across the Universe with Cosmic Connie, aka Connie L. Schmidt...or maybe just through the dung-filled streets and murky swamps of pop culture -- more specifically, the New-Age/New-Wage crowd, pop spirituality & religion, pop psychology, self(ish)-help, business babble, media silliness, & related (or occasionally unrelated) matters of consequence. Hope you're wearing boots. (By the way, the "Cosmic" bit in my moniker is IRONIC.)

Monday, April 28, 2008

Monday musings

Sensitivity warning: Today's post discusses some rather delicate matters.


I think I'll take a little time out from my busy schedule of scooping the New York Times, reporting on the Blunder From Down Under, exploring the wonders of nature here on The Ranch, and, oh, yeah, that thing called work. I think we're long overdue for another "snippets" post here.

Stinkin' thinkin'
SHAMblog's Steve Salerno facetiously named his post of today, "Just another misogynistic Monday." Actually he's not being misogynistic, just making some well-considered points about the double standards that are working in women's favor in our society these days.

If you want to see some real misogyny – or at least what has been interpreted by some feminists as a sort of veiled misogyny – take a look at a couple of ads that were in some old magazines I just happened to have lying around the house (click on the images for enlargement). Something about living in this retro ranch house has inspired me to unpack and rediscover the delights and insights hidden within the yellowing pages of these old periodicals (so to speak).

You may have previously seen a version of this first ad in an email that was going around the Net some time last year. Well, I have in my possession a copy of a magazine that actually contains one of these ads: the March 1956 issue of Successful Farming, to be exact. This is one of the gems I retrieved from the home of my late paternal grandmother. (As it happens, my grandparents on both sides were farmers, and both of my parents grew up on a farm, so I guess I'm just carrying on the family tradition...sort of, anyway...by residing on The Ranch.)

Flipping through the pages of this issue of Successful Farming is a not entirely pleasant trip back in time. Nestled among the tractor and fertilizer ads and the articles about the latest breakthroughs in adding stilbestrol (estrogen) and antibiotics to cattle and pig feed, there are numerous articles and ads targeted to Milady. She may have been a hearty farm wife who could slop the hogs with one hand and cook up three enormous meals a day in her country kitchen with the other, while helping six children with their homework and hand-sewing all of their school outfits (in short, a woman who had far more life skills than I'll ever have)... but she also, by golly, gave a hoot about internal daintiness. Even so, it couldn't have been the easiest thing to be fastidious about one's womanhood when one was busy tending to livestock and chasing kids and helping to run a farm.

Fortunately, there was Lysol liquid to come to the rescue. Not only was it a venerable household disinfectant, but it was also, apparently, just the thing for cleaning out more private "rooms." Matter of fact, Lysol had been a household name in feminine hygiene for years before that 1956 ad.

Ouch.

Flash forward thirteen years to 1969: the Summer of Love has come and gone, and free love and the Sexual Revolution are making their profound mark on society, thanks in large part to the Pill and, of course, to the hippies. In certain circles, the "natural look" is becoming more acceptable, although in some cases "natural" is code for "a little careless on the hygiene front." On the other hand, the "second wave" of feminism won't really hit for another year or so, and it will be quite a while before it makes any sort of dent in the "women's magazines." (Actually, a glance at many ads and articles today makes a pretty good case for the opinion that the feminist revolution completely bypassed Women's Mag Land.)

I'm looking now at the June 1969 issue of Ladies' Home Journal, which at that time was "The Magazine Women Believe In." I nabbed this one from my mom's house a few years ago. Actress Ali McGraw is featured on the cover as an example of "The Movies' New 'Natural' Woman." And I suppose she does look natural, comparatively speaking, in that her eyes aren't weighted down with the garish false lashes and blue eye shadow that were the fashion in those days, and her teeth are...gasp... a little crooked.

Flipping through the magazine, it seems clear that feminine daintiness is still an overriding concern, but a revolution has obviously taken place in the interim, as indicated by the headline on one ad devoted to the topic of down-there freshness: "Five years ago most women would have been too embarrassed to buy this product." This from an ad for a feminine deodorant spray called Feminique, by Intec Laboratories in New Jersey: "a product that would have made your grandmother faint and your mother blush." The copy went on to explain that now that "The Pill" had freed gals from worry, "The Spray" would "help make all that freedom worthwhile."

The real revolution, of course, had taken place among the marketers who came up with the idea of deodorants specifically for women's naughty bits. And not a moment too soon, what with women being so smelly and all. I never can remember if it was Dear Abby or her sis Ann Landers, but I recall that one of those sage pop-advice columnists wrote on more than one occasion: "Men should bathe once a day. Women can't bathe often enough." The good folks at Lysol had gotten wise to that fact decades previously, as had various makers of commercial douching products, but it took late-60s marketing whizzes to truly refine the art of feminine hygiene by introducing products for external daintiness. Feminique was but one of several such products advertised in that issue of LHJ; in my view, however, the award for Most Patronizing Copy easily goes to a similar offering called Pristeen.

So it was that in that eventful summer of 1969, while the hippies were doing their thing (Woodstock, of course, happened later that year), and some dudes were getting ready to walk on the Moon, and the ongoing war in Vietnam was dividing the US as nothing had in many years, our attractive, nice-to-be-with-girl was off in her own dreamy world – uncertain of many things, perhaps, in that time of turmoil, but completely confident that the most girl part of her was under control.

Of course it's stretching things a bit to say that any of the feminine-hygiene ads are indicative of misogyny. They are, more than anything else, examples of advertisers preying on the various insecurities of their prospective consumers, and in that respect are no different from ads for baldness cures or erectile-dysfunction remedies. For that matter, preying upon people's insecurities is how New-Wage and selfish-help hucksters attract their customers. I knew there was a way to tie old feminine hygiene ads in to the main themes of my blog.


Still, when one is in a certain kind of mood, it's hard to get past the overriding message that we gals are real stinkers.


Mail...I get mail!

Speaking of stinkin' thinkin', I occasionally get emails and blog comments from people who think my thinking stinks. F'rinstance, there was this one that came in recently (
I have not edited the post for spelling, grammar, or punctuation, but I have softened the expletives):
I just came across your blog and pissed myself laughing, I mean what is it in someones life that is so so sad that you have to bitch about other people all the time. I don't know what this LOA or stuff is (and I can't be assed to find out!) but I cannot believe that ANYONE has that much time to spare in their lives that they can moan about a whole load of things that have nothing to do with them all the time. Your like the gossip of the internet. You remind me of 2 neighbours, who have such sad lives that they sit and make stuff up about everyone else. How bored must you be? Seriously now, as a grown up, don't you think this is childish? Maybe you could start a hobby? I do have better things to do with my time, but I thought that I would be nice and tell you how much of a loser you sound. Also, for the people who do read the books you moan about, this is the perfect place for them to come and find out about the new books and inside gossip about what they believe in. I bet they come here, check for new books and are off to amazon to buy them. So your selling the stuff for them, how daft is that? I am all for people having a say, but surely you need to have at least have looked into this and tired it all 100% to have formed such childish opinions. How can you have an opinion on something you know nothing about? Unless of course it is just a childish opinion built on sh-t. I have read you WHOLE blog and have gone from tears of tiredness cause I am so bored, or laughter because your so shallow!! Maybe you could do with some of those crazy books to help you get a life! George
Oddly enough, this comment came in response to a post that didn't contain my usual snarking. At the time, however, it was the top post on the page, so I suppose the person just wanted his comment to be noticed. Judging from the spelling conventions observed, I'm guessing the writer is a Brit or perhaps an Aussie. I'm also thinking that quite possibly he is a David Schirmer fan or family member (who is not being entirely truthful about not knowing what "this LOA stuff" is).

An anonymous commenter responding to that same post wrote:

Maybe you should try using the LOA instead of moaning and going on about all that is wrong in your life. What you think about, you bring about!!

Wow, they sure told me, didn't they?

One of my favorite pieces of fan mail came in just last week in response to a post I'd written a year previously. The post was about some of the most inspiring MystiCouples at work in the world today, and the person who wrote to me took umbrage at my remarks about a cult leader in Sedona, Arizona named Gabriel of Urantia. (At one time he was Gabriel of Sedona, and before that he was Tony Delevin, but "Urantia" encompasses the entire planet, being a name for planet Earth, as revealed in a wackadoo New-Wage bible called The Urantia Book. I actually have a copy of that classic work, and have for many years. Can't say I've read it all, though.)

Anyhow, one of Gabriel's followers really took me to task, and once again, I've abandoned my day-job role as editor, except for my customary neutralization of expletives:
Well ms. schmid, You ask what do you think about me ,so I will give you some feed back. I think you are probably very confused about life and cosmic reality. It is a shame that you try to discredit people that you don't even know,you must be very angry or just self absorbed or possibly your upset with your own life. I can not be the judge of what determines your actions, but I must say you have put some bad information up about Gabriel and Niann. They are very special people and there only desire is to help the planet grow into a reality where sh-t talking is none excitant and mature and the only criticism is positive reinforcement which I am giving you write now. I could say you suck sh-t at being a write ,editor or book designer but that would not be constructive criticism it would just be rude ,kind of like what you said about Gabriel's singing. That's your opinion and some opinions should be kept to ones self. Did your mother ever tell you if you don't have anything nice to say then say nothing at all. God loves you but he don't like the sh-t you write about beautiful people. So Gabriel and Niann have my vote for the most beautiful balanced compliments I have ever had the privilege to serve in gods kingdom with ,not the mysticouple award. You should show them great respect and honor them for the beauty they pour out on this planet.
As you'll see if you follow the link above, I published the comment and replied to it. Yet the writer sent the identical comment again the next day, perhaps not understanding how Blogger's archiving system works. Just in case that writer is still stewing about my perceived failure to publish his letter, I am presenting it to you now on the main page.

This disgruntled soul isn't the first person to get after me about things I'd written about Gabriel; one of Gabe's cousins had previously challenged me on my blog, as did another follower via private email. The consensus seems to be that if nothing else, the opinion I expressed about Gabe's vocal limitations was very rude. Well, as we know, opinions are like you-know-whats, so don't take my word for it. Go here to sample Gabriel's singing for yourself.

Oh, those polygamists!
And speaking of cults... I'll wrap up this collection of snippets with another gem you may or may not have seen: the 2008 Texas Polygamist Wives Wall Calendar. Guys, I gotta warn ya: grab a towel before you click. This is even better than watching drunk college girls fake orgasms on YouTube.*

And that's it for now, Dear Ones. I'll be back soon with more news you probably can't use, but that, with any luck, will be a reasonably entertaining way to waste your time when you should be working.

* Okay, not better. But quieter, anyway.



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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Cosmic Connie scoops the NY Times again?*

Okay, maybe "scooped" is stretching it a bit.


But at the very least, I did give an early alert regarding events that have now come to pass.

On December 3, 2007, I published a blog post (accompanied by what several folks have deemed to be one of my greatest achievements in PhotoShopping), regarding Dan Hollings, the Internet marketing wizard behind the original DVD of the hit New-Wage infomercial The Secret, and Drew Heriot, the director of the original DVD. These two fine gentlemen have apparently been screwed over by Rhonda Byrne and her US bidness partner, Bob Rainone. At the time, legal proceedings that had not yet been publicized were going on behind the scenes but I wasn't exactly at liberty to write about 'em so I didn't.

Anyway, now it's official – or, rather, the "secret" is out – and you can read all about it in Allen Salkin's article of April 26, 2008 in the New York Times. And John Curtis, who crusades against fraud in the selfish-help industry (is that a redundancy?), has just sent out an email alert about the NY Times article.

Just remember that you read the news here first (or most of it, anyway, along with a lot of superfluous blather about me).

Now if you'll excuse me, I must get back to the never-ending task of pseudo-journalistic investigation, which consists of frequently checking my email "in" box to see if any more anonymous tips, scandalous secrets, or particularly stoopid New-Wage spam have arrived. It's a tough job, being a phony journalist, but you, Dear Ones, are worth it.

PS ~ Here's a link to info about Drew Heriot's complaint against Rhonda Byrne, et al.

* Here's a link to the post in which I explain about the first time I "scooped" the NY Times.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Nothing SUCCEEDs like success!

"I am one of the most successful stock and commodity traders in the world and one of the most brilliant minds on the Law Of Attraction. The reason I am a great teacher of the laws of the universe is due to my ability to explain a complex subject in the simplest way possible."

~ David Schirmer in Keith Leon’s book, Who Do You Think You Are? Discover The Purpose Of Your Life


You just can’t keep a good huckster man down. For the last year or so, a few little things have not been going so well for David Scammer Schirmer, the lone Aussie star of the hit New-Wage moviemercial The Secret. First there was that annoying little exposé on the Australian TV show A Current Affair. (Actually, it’s a continuing series of exposés – five so far; here’s a link to the latest one.)

Then there was the matter of the divorce between Schirmer and one of his idols (and former joint-venture partner), Bob Proctor. Proctor sued Schirmer in Australia’s Federal Court for deceitful practices, among other things, and doesn’t want anything to do with him ever again. Recently Schirmer found himself in Federal Court yet again regarding an intellectual property charge (JLF Corporation Pty Ltd v Schirmer Financial Management Pty Ltd, VID222/2008). An Aussie businessman named John Fitzgerald,* who seems to be authentically successful (well, rich, anyway) as well as genuinely altruistic (or conspicuously altruistic, anyway), has taken Schirmer to court for breach of intellectual property in regard to (or so I understand) Fitzgerald’s 7 Steps To Accelerated Wealth and Schirmer’s 7 Steps to Unlimited Wealth. While of course no one has a copyright on the admittedly overused concept of "7 steps" (or 3, 10, 12 steps/secrets/tips, etc.), it seems there are some uncanny similarities between Fitzgerald’s work and Schirmer’s – enough to justify a court case, apparently. The date of the hearing is May 2; beyond that, I know very little about the details, though I am sure they will be sorted out in court.

Despite all of this – the lies, the negativity, the false accusations against this good man, and oh, those pesky court cases – David Schirmer continues to be the Law Of Attraction In Action, as the quotation above indicates. He’s not just sitting around feeling sorry for himself and wondering what happened to that $250,000.00 dining room table he bragged about to the crew from A Current Affair last year. (Rumor has it that the guy who made the table doesn’t want anything to do with Schirmer these days. But that’s just gossip, and you know I don’t deal in that sort of stuff. Oh, wait. Yes, I do.)

ANYWAY, David Schirmer isn’t just sitting around admiring his ill-gained flashy BMW and spending other people’s money. No, he’s continuing to exercise his brilliant Law Of Attraction mind with such projects as his new publishing venture, Succeed Magazine, which regularly features great and inspiring people who have made it big in the New-Wage world. And even though his heart may have been broken when Scientist Bob cruelly threw him out into the cold, it seems that Schirmer is now finding solace by cozying up to another one of his "friends," Joe "Mr. Fire" Vitale.

Not only did Mr. Fire mention on his own blog that he had made the cover (well, sort of) of Succeed, Schirmer himself devoted not one but two blog posts to the new alliance. On his post of 23 April, titled "Opps [sic]! I’d better write another blog!", Schirmer writes:

At 7:30am the editor of our Succeed Magazine phoned Texas, USA. It was a special call to an amazing man, friend and co-presenter on The Secret, Dr Joe Vitale. I enjoyed immensely sitting in and listening to Joe's story.

Over the coming months we are sharing with our readers the story behind The Secret Teachers ... the real stuff of where they started and the key distinctions they learned on the journey that brought them to where they are today.

Joe's story is amazing - from homeless and poverty stricken to an international author, speaker and world acclaimed marketer. While on the call Joe shared something with us that he is doing which will make the world a better place - and Succeed will get to announce it exclusively in the next issue.

Not meaning to steal your thunder, Succeed, but would this thing Joe is doing to make the world a better place have anything to do with putting an end to homelessness in our lifetime? Yeah, I thought as much. You can read about that on Joe's blog for free now, though he'll hit you up for an Amazon gift certificate. I'm sure his Operation YES! will be every bit as effective at ending homelessness as The Hunger Project, co-founded by est founder Werner Erhard back in the late 1970s, was at ending world hunger. Whatever. Anyhoo, Schirmer followed up the next day with a post that supplied a link to a PDF of the Vitale article. He ended with a rather puzzling solicitation for subscribers:

Help us out by subscribing ... currently the magazine is only $69.70 for 12 issues (plus international postage). The June/July issue will be bigger and better and will be $99.70 for 12 issues.

So…are we to infer that each issue is actually 12 issues? I’m a little confused, I must confess. But anyway, Succeed Magazine sounds like a real bargain to me.

Word on the (cyber)street is that Schirmer put some of his own money into this venture (do I even need to add, "rather than using that money to pay back some of the people to whom he owes so much"?). Succeed has apparently been through a number of owners, but at one point was a joint venture between Schirmer and a guy named Michael Walls. Walls got royally pissed off at the Schirmers about something or other…goodness, I can’t imagine what; the man must just have a bad temper…and he resigned his co-directorship, so now it’s David and Lorna’s baby. Not that you’d really be able to discern that just by going to the Succeed Magazine web site…but Schirmer does list it on his Linkedin page.

By the way, I got a kick out of the disclaimer on Succeed’s About Us page. It’s another example of why you can’t successfully sue a New-Wage b.s.’er for b.s.’ing you, no matter how outrageous the b.s. is:

disclaimer

"No person or party should rely in any way or act upon any part or parts of the contents of this publication without first obtaining advice from a fully qualified professional person. This publication is sold or otherwise disseminated on the clear terms and conditions that:

* The consultants, authors, contributors, editors and other associated parties are not responsible for the results of any actions taken on the basis of information in this publication, or for any error in or omission therefrom; and

* The publisher is not engaged in rendering financial, accounting, professional, legal or any other advice or services of a professional nature. The publisher, consultants, editors, contributors, authors and other associated parties expressly disclaim any and all liability and responsibility to every person or party, whether a purchaser, reader or consumer of this publication or not, in respect of anything and of the consequences of anything, done or omitted to be done by any such person or party and being in reliance whether wholly or partially upon any part or parts or the whole of the contents of this publication. Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, no publisher, consultant, editor, contributor, author or other associated party shall have any responsibility for any act or omission of any other consultant, editor, contributor, author or other associated party."

On the one hand, that's pretty much a standard disclaimer, perhaps necessary in today's sue-happy bidness climate. On the other hand...well, that disclaimer pretty much covers everything and everyone even remotely connected to Succeed, doesn’t it? It does raise one big question: If you need a "fully qualified professional person" of some kind in order to act upon any of the hustledorks’ advice in the pages of Succeed, why not just go to the professional(s) of choice in the first place, and save yourself the subscription costs? At the very least, you can be reasonably certain that the professionals will probably still be in operation next week or next month, should you need their services again, whereas given the Schirmers’ track record, I’m not so sure that the same can be guaranteed for Succeed.

Schirmer has many other irons in the fire these days, and is also dabbling in social networking, which is all the rage now. I'd be part of the trend myself if I could ever figure it out. [Memo to all of the people who have invited me to be one of your Linkedin buds: I'll get to you, I promise. I'm not being rude. I just have to figure out how to actually use Linkedin.] At any rate, Schirmer recently sent out a spam email inviting people to be his "friend" on Facebook:

Hi:

Are you using Facebook?…

… Facebook has recently been surging in growth and once you mess around with it for a few minutes you'll quickly realize WHY...

…It really is a unique communications tool – and the marketing uses are still in their infancy. Yet there are tons of ways to communicate, learn and even grow your business TODAY with it.

I've been using Facebook for over a year. I actually didn't see much of a reason to use it for my own business.

And, to be honest, I didn't want to tell people my personal account because I value my PRIVACY and was afraid I would get too many people hounding me with messages, and getting mad if I didn't reply, etc. etc.

But Facebook has really evolved in the past year and has added some great privacy features as well as other options to control your account.

…So I've decided to go ahead and share my facebook account – it allows me to share personal photos and videos as well as business-related ones with the "friends" linked to my account.

If you have a Facebook account please put in a request to add me as a friend (when you're logged in) by visiting: http://profile.to/davidschirmer/
http://www.facebook.com/people/David_Schirmer/626721581


If you don't yet have a Facebook account I suggest you go create one RIGHT AWAY:
http://www.facebook.com.

After you create your account and you're logged in, then visit this URL and request to add me as your friend:

http://www.facebook.com/people/David_Schirmer/626721581

http://profile.to/davidschirmer/

Sign up and play around with it a little bit. You'll quickly start seeing how powerful it is.

I'll be publishing more information in the near future that you will find educational and helpful in applying The Secret in your life and some money making ideas with the stock market and business…

Yours in abundance,

David Schirmer

I just thought that y’all might want to know this, in case you are interested in hanging with Schirmer on Facebook.

But the really big triumphant news in Schirmerville is that David Schirmer is part of a new book by Keith Leon, whom I’ve mentioned here before. The book is titled, Who Do You Think You Are?: Discover The Purpose Of Your Life. It’s a compendium of advice from 64-count-em-64 successful sorts, and even has a foreword by Jack "Chicken Soup" Canfield (who was, of course, also in The Secret. And The Opus.** And so on).

Naturally, Schirmer is involved in a spampaign to promote this book. [Subject line: "A great new book from my friend Keith Leon ... And I'm in it!"] Not only can Schirmer's inspiring story be found within its pages, but he’s also part of the big promo package. Yes, with the purchase of Who Do You Think You Are? you get a passel of goodies from numerous New-Wage gurus; these offerings are free, and probably worth every penny. Included in this happy line-up is an amazing 49-minute CD from…you guessed it!…David Schirmer. Here's the scoop:

Learn What Faith Is and How To Apply It To Get Everything You Desire by David Schirmer (Value: $97)

Without Faith, The Secret is nothing! With Faith, you will overcome the mountains of sickness, disease and poverty. Come on a journey with The Secret Teacher David Schirmer and find out why Faith is the most POWERFUL unseen force know to man. He will teach you what Faith is, how to develop and grow it, and most importantly how to use Faith to create abundance and prosperity in ALL areas your life. Get this amazing 49 minute CD and transcript valued at $97.

As for Keith Leon, he seems to be riding the "life purpose" wave with Oprah:

Even OPRAH knows that discovering your life purpose is a priority, so much so that she has been holding the largest web based seminars in history about this very subject. Oprah has been speaking with one man about this topic; Keith interviewed 64 mentors just for you!

Pretty exciting stuff, eh, Dear Ones?

Perhaps the most excited person of all is Keith Leon himself, who says his book is already changing lives:

…We've been bursting with excitement about the release of this book, which many believe has the power to change the world.

The editor of the book didn't even finish the first of six sections before her life changed forever.

Ten days before, she had just started a job that she wasn't passionate about. She took the job for the money. While editing the book, she received an idea that would change the way her new employer's company did business.

The next day she went into the office of her boss, told him her idea, how it would increase their profits and said that she was the one who should lead the project because she had the experience and the passion to do so.

Her boss agreed with her, and before she left his office that day, she had a new position in the company, had doubled her salary and set herself up for stock options so that when her idea takes off, she will reap the financial benefits.

Don’t you just love miracle stories like that? And as it turns out, Who Do You Think You Are? may very well be the last book you will ever have to read or buy, because...

By the time you finish reading Keith's book, you will know how to access the answers to all the questions you could ever think to ask.***

What’s really remarkable about Keith Leon is that he has so much compassion for the unenlightened:

We know that if you have read to the end of this letter you are quite likely to buy Keith's book and receive the bonus resources and gifts. We sadly think about the unfortunate few who will just go on with their day and not order the book now.

Think of me sadly, then, Keith, et al.

By the way, if you’re really ready to change your life for the better, or at least fix what’s ailing in your intimate relationship, Keith and his lovely wife Maura will give you their undivided attention on a Weekend With The Experts, for a mere $10,000.00 USD.

But I digress. You’re probably wondering what Keith Leon’s book reveals about David Schirmer. Well, you can be sure it doesn’t say a word about exposés on A Current Affair, nor about the rancorous split with Bob Proctor, nor about the intellectual properties actions, nor about the tons of angry investors, nor about any of the skeletons in the Schirmer family closet. Instead, in response to Leon’s question "What event or series of events lead [sic] to your discovery?", Schirmer begins with the standard "I-was-once-flat-broke" story. He explains how he and his brother were once successful manufacturers of a piece of farming equipment that they had invented. "Things were going extremely well," he writes, "until greed set in."

According to various sources, the truth of the matter – and the story you won’t read in Keith Leon’s book – is that the Schirmer brothers were merely working on the farm of the man who had actually invented and patented the machine. The brothers decided they could make money from the invention, so they left the farm to begin their own manufacturing company. They didn’t have the permission of the inventor, but he was a good Christian man and apparently not a litigious sort so he didn’t pursue it. Evidently the business folded when David Schirmer’s brother went to prison for a spell.

Schirmer goes on to tell his version of his amazing success story, wrapping it up thusly:

A friend loaned me some Bob Proctor cassette tapes of his seminar You Were Born Rich. As I listened, Bob explained to me how the mind works and why we get the results we have in our life. The reason I was drawn to his work was because Bob didn’t just tell me what to do, he also showed me how the mind works and told me why to do it. Within thirty days of listening to Bob and doing the things he said, things started to change. I went from broke to ten thousand dollars a month within 3 month, then over a million a year within three years.

Thus it was that Schirmer set his sights on Scientist Bob, and wormed his way into the man's good graces (or at least bought the rights to market some of Proctor's material). The two even did some workshops together. It was lovely while it lasted…

Schirmer concludes:

I became a very successful trader once I realized that the stock market is just a vibration, like everything else. Once you tune into the vibration and really notice the way the energy moves, you can see its patterns and cycles. All you really need to successfully trade is the right knowledge, a rule, a pencil and a half an hour a week.

This from the man whose broker, according to more than one source, refused to work with him any more because Schirmer lost so much money.

But you probably won’t read that in Keith Leon’s book or, for that matter, on any of David Schirmer’s web sites. Well, I suppose the variance in the stories is really no big deal. Perhaps Schirmer is only exercising his skills in "explaining complex subjects in the simplest way possible."

Be that as it may, it looks as if Mr. Fire, for better or for worse, and whether he likes it or not, has a new best friend.

PS added on April 25: I just revisited Keith Leon's Gaia Community profile. Formerly David Schirmer was the second name under his "My Heroes" listing. Schirmer seems to be missing from that list now, though Keith still gives him credit as one of his teachers.
PPS added on May 7: Here's your chance to subscribe to Succeed Magazine and save big! Remember, the next issue will feature Mr. Fire!

* I've been informed that Mr. Fitzgerald is one of Australia's most notorious spruikers. I confess to not having known much about him, or even to have heard of him until recently, but I do understand the "birds of a feather" concept...
**It's really too bad Schirmer apparently wasn't chosen to be in The Opus, since I understand the story is framed around the tale of a famous violinist, and as it happens, rumor has it that David Schirmer fiddles about...er.. plays the violin! The movie could have featured footage of him playing. Talk about a missed opportunity...
*** What if one of the questions turns out to be, "Why the hell did I waste my money on this crap?"?

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Friday, April 11, 2008

A piece of our hearts (or, why some days REALLY suck, Part 2*)

Rex
Arrived: Some time in 1998
Departed: April 10, 2008, approx. 1:00 PM CDT
" It came to me that every time I lose a dog they take a piece of my heart with them. And every new dog who comes into my life gifts me with a piece of their heart. If I live long enough, all the components of my heart will be dog, and I will become as generous and loving as they are."
~ Unknown (sometimes attributed to Cheryl Zuccaro)
Warning to those who were expecting something snarky: Unfortunately, this is another sappy and possibly boring dog post. If you don't like dog stories, stay away from this post! I WILL get back to snarky mode before too long. I promise.

Late one spring night in 1999, a sprightly young Rottweiler/Doberman/black Lab mix was making his way down the middle of a suburban road, dragging a chain. He was accompanied by another dog – a small Collie or a Sheltie, though the latter was keeping to the side of the road. Where the pair had come from, and where they thought they were going, was anyone's guess. As luck would have it, they were spotted by a dedicated rescuer of homeless canines, who put some food down to lure them closer. The Sheltie took off, but the Rott mix took the bait, and the rescuer grabbed his chain.

She took him home and did the usual thing that responsible animal rescuers do – put up signs all over the place, called the area shelters, tried her best to help the stranger find his way back home. There was no response, so the handsome young guy became yet another of her foster "children." He was checked out by a vet, given the requisite shots, neutered, and then duly entered into the adoption program sponsored by the organization with which the rescuer was involved – Houston's Homeless Pet Placement League. And he was given the working name of "Rex" – not a terribly original moniker, but it suited him well.

Rex was, to put it mildly, a lively sort. His benefactor speculated that the reason he was on a chain was that he had grown out of the small, cute puppy stage, and no one had taken the time to train him or give him much attention. He was obviously very hungry for attention from humans and other dogs. In the report prepared for Rex's adoption files, his rescuer wrote, "He...runs up and down the fence line with the neighbors' dogs and whines because he wants to be with them."

Ron and I were those neighbors, and our dogs seemed to want to be with Rex as much as he wanted to be with them. In September of 1999, the dogs' wishes were granted when we officially adopted Rex, after keeping him at our place on a "trial" basis for a few weeks.

It was, for us, the perfect time to add another dog to our clan. The previous spring, at almost exactly the same time Rex had been entered into the HPPL adoption program, we had said goodbye to Ron's dog Siva, an ancient, wise, and infinitely loving blue heeler-dingo mix. She had advanced cancer and Ron had to make the difficult decision to have the vet end her suffering. Siva's departure left a huge empty space in our household, but we had no particular plans to acquire another dog.

And then along came Rex, and we both fell in love with the big lug, who despite his formidable appearance was just an overgrown baby. Ron was also concerned that someone else might adopt Rex and try to turn him into some macho killing machine, with tragic consequences. We couldn't let that happen. So we paid the modest adoption fee and he became officially ours, and vice versa.

The adoption report stated that Rex got along with other dogs but not with cats. The latter proved not to be true, which was a good thing, since we had four cats at the time. (It helped that they were all quite used to dogs.) Rex quickly learned the art of interacting with cats without scaring the living daylights out of them. Sometimes he got a little overly enthusiastic when nosing their butts, but he did rapidly learn the one lesson every dog should know: If you go too far when messing with a cat, it's going to turn into a fight – and the cat always wins.

It was obvious from the beginning that Rex was Ron's dog, but it was equally obvious that Rex loved me too, and in fact was quite taken with women in general. Even more than he loved women, he loved human crotches. To get both a woman and a crotch in one package was a true delight for him. Ron always enjoyed telling the story of the time his best friend's wife came over to our house for a visit. She is a petite woman, and she was wearing a long skirt that day. Rex came up to her to nose her crotch, saw that there was a skirt in the way, pushed his nose up under her skirt, and actually lifted her up off the ground. She was taken by surprise but laughed and was a good sport about it overall, though she gently but firmly disentangled herself from the situation.

Ron jokingly said to her, "Hey, c'mon, it took me a long time to train him to do that!" (Notwithstanding Ron's facetious remark we did continually attempt, with limited success, to discourage Rex's crotch obsession, and were forever grateful that he was never a leg humper.)

Besides being a notorious crotch dog, Rex became infamous for other traits, most notably his proficiency at passing gas – which in his case was not only an olfactory phenomenon, but generally an auditory one as well. It became a running joke in our household, and in later years, our boy even had a recurring cameo role on this blog as Rex The Farting Dog (a nod to Walter The Farting Dog).

He was, of course, much more than those quirky traits and comical bodily functions. He was loyal and affectionate and protective to a fault, and he made it very clear that we belonged to him as much as the other way around. The usual way he expressed his ownership of us was by plopping one of his huge hands on top of our hand, or on our leg, or on any part that happened to be convenient. On most mornings, Ron was awakened – quite suddenly, and generally a bit earlier than he would have liked – by Rex's insistent paw landing squarely on his chest.

In the time he was with us, Rex presided over a succession of other dogs and cats. A couple of days before Christmas of 2000, we lost another dog: Snapper, the elderly whippet that Ron had inherited from his late mother. Snapper and Rex had been buds, and usually slept nestled together next to Ron's side of the bed. It seemed clear that Rex missed him, and not just as a sleep buddy. Our other three dogs were miniature dachshunds, and they were just a bit too small to be playmates for him, though they got along well with him and he was always very gentle with them.

And then the following spring, a smart, pretty, and supremely self-confident young hound-terrier mix, Layla, joined our household. Her former owner had moved to an apartment where he couldn't have dogs, and she needed a new home. Layla and Rex got along famously, and when she grew old enough to come into heat, she wiggled her little butt in Rex's direction... and amazingly, they mated. Since Rex had been neutered in May of 1999, we were of course a bit surprised and not a little concerned, but our vet assured us that while rare, such a thing was by no means impossible. "Don't worry, he's firing blanks," the vet said. Thus it was that Rex and Layla were both able to enjoy a vigorous sex life for several years, without contributing to the pet overpopulation problem. How many dogs can make that claim?

More seasons passed, and we acquired another "rescue" puppy: a feral blue heeler-Aussie shepherd mix we named Kali (keeping in the same pantheon as Siva, as Kali bore a strong resemblance to Siva when the latter was a puppy). Kali turned out to be nothing like Siva. She was, and is, a handful, but she brought a youthful energy to our household. And this was a good thing, for as some of our other animals aged the inevitable began to happen. Natasha, the oldest of the dachshunds, died in November of 2003, and her mate Nicholas followed in January of 2004. The two oldest cats, Bruce and Sabrina, left us in January and February of 2005, respectively. In October of 2005 a new kitten, Sabu, came to live with us, and after that we thought we were back on an even keel, animal-wise. Then Nicky and Natasha's daughter, Noelle, died rather unexpectedly last October. Surely, we thought, after losing seven elderly animals within a few years, we were due for an extended break from those wrenching goodbyes.

We were wrong.

In the past few months Rex had slowed down considerably. A bit of slowing down isn't unusual for a dog that's nearly ten years old, particularly a larger breed, for they age more rapidly than smaller dogs. But he was displaying some symptoms that had us concerned, including weight loss and a general lack of energy. We took him to the vet shortly before our move to the ranch in February, and the vet checked him out thoroughly. He ruled out anything serious such as diabetes, heart failure, or kidney failure. He did tell us that Rex's kidneys weren't operating at top efficiency but it wasn't anything to be overly concerned about at that point. Even the weight loss wasn't extreme, and in fact was advantageous given the fact that Rex had a bit of arthritis. The vet recommended a minor change in diet and advised us to keep a fairly close eye on him. We were immensely relieved.

We were even more relieved in the weeks to follow, for Rex improved and seemed to thrive. He began to gain some of his weight back and was looking better than he had in quite a while. He loved our new house in the country, and spent more time outdoors than he'd ever wanted to spend at the other place. He seemed completely happy with his new role as a country dog. There were so many novel sights and sounds to engage him, and new animals to befriend (although he did try to bite one of the neighbor's horses his first morning here. The horse – and Ron – quickly set him straight.).

Then just a couple of weeks ago, the old symptoms seemed to return, along with some alarming new ones: swelling in his hind legs and the lymph nodes in his neck. He had begun losing weight again and he became much less energetic. At first we thought the problem might be ehrlichiosis, a tick-borne disease that if caught in time can be cured with tetracycline or a derivative. But it turned out to be lymphatic cancer, and it turned out that Rex was suffering greatly. A couple of nights ago it became very apparent that he was in terrible pain, and he was so weak he could no longer get up.

We took turns keeping vigil by his side on that last long and mostly sleepless night – Rex made it obvious that he did not want to be alone – and when morning came we knew what we had to do. Rex was hurting too badly for us to even try to get him into the van, but Ron found a kindly country vet, who drove out to the ranch house in pouring rain, bearing his merciful needle. Rex went quickly and peacefully, with Ron and me holding him, and when it was over we kissed him goodbye and the vet took him away.

Afterwards there didn't seem to be much to do. There was work, of course, as there always is, but we didn't have quite what it took to deal with that. The house, as big as it is, didn't seem large enough to hold our grief, so we wandered out onto our covered porch for a while. The rain had stopped by then, and there was no sound except for the mourning doves in the trees.

So here we are now with two dogs and three cats and, inevitably, that very large empty space with which we have become all too familiar.** Layla has moved to the place of honor next to Ron's side of the bed. Kali sleeps in her crate, as she has since we've had her, because that's where she feels most secure. The cats curl up in various corners in "their" part of the house, as placid as usual, but I am pretty sure they feel the empty space too. Or maybe I am just projecting.

We've often said that Rex was not running away from home that night our neighbor found him dragging his chain. He was running to his home. Whether it was fate or divine intervention or just dumb luck that brought him to the point where he would end up in the yard next door to ours, I couldn't begin to say. I do know we owe an immense debt of gratitude to our friend and former neighbor, Jeannice, as well as to the HPPL. What matters most is that Rex was a part of our lives for nearly nine years.

Which, of course, wasn't nearly long enough.

* Here's Part 1.
** Note to well-meaning friends: The presence of a new empty space in our household does NOT mean we are in the market for another dog (or cat) at this point. We are not. We are concentrating on loving and caring for the five animals we still have.

Friday, April 04, 2008

A divorce in Secretville

Dear Ones, I must apologize once again for not properly tending to my blog, especially in light of some of the interesting Whirled events of the past several weeks. And while at the moment I still don't have the time (or the brain power) for a long post, I didn't want to let another week go by without commenting on one of these momentous events.

By now you may have already heard that the Bob and David show – as in Proctor and Schirmer, respectively – has been canceled for good. I'll grant that Schirmer, the lone Aussie star of the hit New-Wage infomercial The Secret, got as much mileage as he could out of his association with Scientist Bob and The Secret. It looked like a match made in heaven for a while. But there was trouble in their joint-venture paradise, trouble that probably began last year when the first hint of Schirmer's financial misdeeds became public.

Now Proctor has made it abundantly (great choice of words, don't you think?) clear that he wants nothing more to do with Schirmer, Schirmer's wife Lorna, or the Schirmers' various companies. Recently he took the Schirmers to Federal Court in Australia to make his point, accusing them of misleading and deceptive practices, and stating that he, Proctor, had suffered loss and damage as a result of their actions.

The case was recently resolved by a court order stating that, for all practical purposes, Schirmer can't even utter the name "Bob Proctor" in public again. Nor can he sell Proctor's products or in any way insinuate that he is associated with Proctor. Further, he has to pay Proctor's court costs – $60,000.00 at $5,000.00 per month, beginning on May 1, 2008. If you're interested, here's a link to the page that will take you to the court order; under the word "Document," click "Yes," and it will bring up another page with the actual court order on it.

I know, I know... you're probably as shocked and dismayed as I am that this seemingly happy marriage has come to an end, but that's just the way it goes sometimes.*

To make matters worse for Schirmer (or better, from the standpoint of his penchant for playing the martyr card), that pesky Ben Fordham of Australia's
A Current Affair is still on his trail. The latest exposé aired last month, and on this episode, Schirmer really loses his cool. Here's the YouTube link. I've been informed that Schirmer's "security" in this segment – or at least the person running interference with Ben Fordham – is one of Schirmer's teenage sons. As they say, "The family that preys together..."

But all is not grim in Schirmerville. He's still looking to the US for new marks...er... new markets. And Schirmer is nothing if not persistent when it comes to repackaging himself and creating new businesses. Word has it that he has a new company called Perissos International Ltd. Apparently this name is Bible-based, which is completely appropriate, as Schirmer is reportedly a man of faith.
I Googled the word "Perissos" and found this on a site called "Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words":
perissos: "more than sufficient, over and above, abundant" (a popular substitute for perissoteros), is translated "more," e.g., in Matt_5:37,47. In John_10:10 the neuter form is rendered "more abundantly," AV, RV, "abundantly" (marg., "abundance").
Ah, yes, there's that magical word, "Abundance." And I have a feeling that this year will hold an abundance of surprises for our man Schirmer. So dry your tears, Dear Ones. Do not weep for the union that was torn asunder. David Schirmer's story isn't over yet. In fact, I suspect it has just begun.

* I'm not suggesting for a moment that Bob Proctor is a sterling character himself, but... well, I'd better wait till I have clearance to tell that story.

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